Posts Tagged ‘fiction’

For The Birds

In Fiction on January 18, 2013 at 12:09 pm

Empire State Pigeon (photo credit ZeroOne/ photo on Flickr)
(Photo credit: ZeroOne / / CC BY-SA)

For The Birds

You can wheel through the sky and skewer the clouds, or you can spend your life low and leave your mark (if you know what I mean).

Just remember: It’ll eventually rain.

This is in response to this weeks Trifextra challenge in which you’re given a prompt and asked to write 33 words on it (the photo being the prompt this week). Read the rest of this entry »


NaNo-Scale Failure

In Off-Topic on December 3, 2012 at 1:03 pm

November has come and gone and, with it, so has NaNoWriMo. I started the month with a lot of hope and some pretty lofty goals but, alas, I am forced to now report that I have… failed.

nanowrimo banner

It turns out working, blogging and drafting a novel just wasn’t possible if I valued things like time with my girlfriend and basic hygiene (and it turns out I do).

But Don’t Despair!

As I see it, I’ve still managed to write the first five chapters of a book that, until now, has been floating in that perilous space between brain cells. NaNoWriMo forced me to get concrete about my characters and my plot, and because of that I think I’ve gotten a pretty well-distilled version of things ready to go – it’ll just go more at my pace. Read the rest of this entry »

The Wednesday Wiki-Prompt

In Writing on October 3, 2012 at 12:35 pm


People who read this website know I often write stories in response to weekly writing prompts like Madison Woods’ Friday Fictioneers, Lillie McFerrin’s Five Sentence Fiction and the Trifecta Writing Challenge (more accurately, people who read this site are often reading it because they, too, participate in these very same prompts).

Well, in the last couple of weeks, while working on my stories for these prompts, I’ve found myself turning more frequently to a new source of inspiration: Wikipedia. Something about the process of learning something new – call it flash research – gets my creativity going and I end up really enjoying the pieces that come out of it.

My stories Pietro Barbino and Przypadek, and yesterday’s The Battle of Bicocca all had roots in quick Wikipedia research, and this got me thinking – why not use Wikipedia to start a brand new writing prompt?

Are You Up For (Another) Challenge?

So I’d like to propose an idea to you, my readers and fellow writers: how about a new weekly writing challenge where we take the day’s featured Wikipedia article and write a short story off of it?

Say Say Say (1983, Paul McCartney & Michael Ja...

These sad clowns will be even sadder if you’re not into this idea… just Say Say Saying

I’m going to start doing it anyway, based on whatever article is featured each Wednesday. Today it’s an article on “Say Say Say” – a song written and performed by Paul McCartney and Michael Jackson.

There will only be a few rules. First, the stories should be 500 words or fewer. Second, they should be done by the following Wednesday. And third – there is no third!

So what do you think? Will you join me? Do you even have time in your schedule to fit in another writing prompt? It might be slow to build at first, but I think a weekly prompt that involves a little bit of research could be useful (and knowing some of the Fictioneers and FSF-ers, I’m already really interested to see what you might do with this week’s prompt).

Let me know below – I’d love to have you on board!

The Battle of Bicocca

In Writing on October 2, 2012 at 8:26 pm

It’s week three (for me at least) of the Trifecta Writing Challenge, and this week the prompt is uneasy. The idea for this came to me pretty easily though, with a little help from Wikipedia (more on that here ). Give it a read, leave your comments and criticism below, and then think about jumping into the fray for next week’s prompt!
Map of Lombardy in 1522, at the time of the Ba...

The Battle of Bicocca

Albert had wept as he crossed the field — in full view of his men, he had wept like a child — but it didn’t matter, for all his men were dead. Now the blood clung to his hands and face and ran down his chest in sticky gobs.

Alone in his tent he lit a long match, and then a candle, and then a dark-leafed cigar. He rolled it above the flame, drawing carefully to perfect the burn, and still he wept.

How will I tell them?” he whispered.

He had lost men before – not these numbers, perhaps, not thousands – but he had lost them. He had seen men with pikes through their necks, men trampled by horses, men destroyed by the fierce blast of the arquebus, but…but that smile, that uneasy smile, was what unraveled him now – that terror worse by far than all the death and misery he’d ever witnessed.

“Trust me,” he said to himself, remembering. “Trust me.”

And Michel had trusted him, not as his commander, but as his brother – and so deeply that all those years, all those years since they had been young together, had flashed with hope in that one smile, shaded though it was by doubt.

Now, in the darkness of his tent, Albert wrote his letters home – one announcing his brother’s death, and one that he had not yet decided to send.

Related Stories: Pietro Barbino and Przypadek, with an ever expanding collection of the flashiest of fiction on my (gasp!) fiction page.

Pietro Barbino

In Writing on September 18, 2012 at 10:55 pm

In the spirit of writing more, this week I’ve decided to tackle another writing challenge, specifically the Trifecta Writing Challenge, where we’re given a one-word prompt on which to base a 33 to 333 word story. This week the word is ample.

Now, in the Boboli Gardens in Florence there is a statue of a fat dwarf sitting naked astride a giant turtle, and for some reason this was the very first thing I thought of when I read the prompt (but let’s not read too much into that, ok?). The statue is of Pietro Barbino, court jester to Cosimo I de’Medici, a Tuscan Duke of the 16th century.

But I won’t bore you with Wikipedia research. Let’s just get to his story, shall we?

Pietro Barbino, Cosimo I's dwarf jester

I took this picture of Mr. Barbino myself. You should be thankful it’s a little blurry.

Pietro Barbino

Pietro Barbino was short of stature, ample of bosom, and drunk of wine.  He tottered to the fountain and sat with a groan.

Read the rest of this entry »

The Mill In The Kip

In Writing on September 7, 2012 at 6:27 pm

This week I’ve done something very different (for me at least) for Friday Fictioneers: A poem!

Maybe it’s because I’ve been gone for a couple weeks and I wanted my glorious return to be different, or maybe it’s just because I started writing and noticed a lot of rhythm in the words and decided to go all in (who can really say?), but whatever the reason, this is where I ended up.

As always, constructive criticism is welcome (be gentle! Poetry isn’t my thing), and head on over to Madison Woods website for past weeks, sweet writings and authorial goodness.

Who Lives There?      

Deep in the Kip is a stony mill,
and close by the mill is a stream,
dark and small and easy to miss in the shade of the close-spaced trees.

Read the rest of this entry »

Walkin’ in the Old South

In Travel on August 15, 2012 at 1:54 pm

If you’ve been following my Five Sentence Fiction story over the last couple of months, you’ll know that it takes place in the Civil War-Era South. And if you’ve been stalking me lately, you’ll know that, coincidentally, I’ve also just moved to Atlanta.

Well, over the weekend my girlfriend and I got out of the city and went for a hike at Sweetwater Creek State Park, where the trails took us on a bit of a historical tour – one that turned out to be oddly relevant to my story.

Sweetwater Manufacturing Company, Georgia

Read the rest of this entry »

Don’t Leave Out The Music: Writing For Sound

In Writing on July 10, 2012 at 9:09 am

When I was an undergraduate I took a poetry class and found it to be pretty tough going. Mind you, I’ve never found poetry easy, but when I was just starting out I was so frustrated by how bad my writing seemed that I almost gave up altogether. I understood the technical aspects — stresses and syllables and meter — but nothing I wrote ever really sang.

I went to meet with my professor and told him I had no problem writing song lyrics (I was in a pretty cool band called Funk Bus in high school), but I couldn’t get a handle on poetry. He asked me a pretty obvious question, then — one that I should have asked myself long before, and one that completely changed how I approached my writing from then on.

“What’s the difference between lyrics and poetry?” he asked.

The obvious answer: lyrics go along with music, poetry does not. In other words, with poetry, the music has to be built in. Nothing I wrote seemed to sing because, so far, I’d just been writing words (trying to make myself sound sophisticated and poetic, of course) but I’d been leaving out the music.

Woody Words and Tinny Words

It turns out that, in poetry, the way the words sound is almost as important as what the words are saying (some would say even more important), and though I never really kept up with the poetry, I’ve found the lesson of writing for sound is also useful when it comes to writing prose.

There’s a funny Monty Python sketch where they talk about Woody Words (“Carribou. Gone.”) and Tinny Words (“Antelope!”).  And even though it’s funny it also hits on a truth: words have tone, and timbre and character.

Some words are sharp and crisp, while others are soft and warm, and they conjure up these feelings just by virtue of how they vibrate in our chests, how they shape our mouths and make us work our teeth and lips and tongues (just read that sentence aloud to see what I mean).

If you want to describe a comforting fire in a cozy hovel, you should use warm (even woody) words; as a matter of fact, the words comfort, cozy, hovel and warm all fit into that category.

You might want to use some words that accentuate the action of the fire, too.  The embers crack and hiss, pop and snap.

While you’re at it, maybe the wind outside is cold and biting, sharp and stinging. The snow may be crisp and bright. Shards of clear crystal hang from the frosty eaves.

You get the idea.

Sound’s Good (Sounds Good)

If you’re looking for a general guide, words that sound in your chest and stomach, or pull your mouth into an ‘O’ shape, tend to have a warm, deep character. (Think M’s, long O’s, W’s, voiced G’s). Words that make you use your teeth and lips tend to feel sharp and hard. (P’s, T’s, C’s and K’s).

That’s just in general. The real lesson here is that you should read your sentences out loud — not just to see how they flow, but also to see how they actually sound. (Who knew, right?) Listen for how well the timbre and tone of the words you’re using fits with the feeling you’d like to convey.

It may not be immediately intuitive — it may not even seem important at first — but I promise if you pay attention to the sound of your words and not just the meaning, your writing will improve.

Anchors Aweigh

In Writing on June 22, 2012 at 7:23 am

Here we go with another Friday Fictioneers, care of Madison Woods and her shiny new website. This week’s picture prompt, my story, and a link to the other stories below.

I don’t usually take the approach I did this week, so even more than usual, constructive criticism is welcomed, encouraged, and will be rewarded with goblets of wine.

Damsel Fly

Anchors Aweigh

We sit in silence, our reels whirring, sinkers splashing. The shore is a shadow.

“Boat’s almost too small now,” I say.

He pulls in his line and casts again. The water slurps.  Damselflies dart through the mist, cutting grey trails above the lake.

“What do you think mom would say if –“

He holds up his hand.

“Robert, please,” he says, looking at me. Then just as quickly he turns in his seat and casts into the fog.

I can tell he is smiling.

“She’d probably have another heart attack,” he says.


Again, constructive criticism is encouraged — and if you’re feeling generous with you criticism, check out my other fiction, including stories that are even longer than 100 words!

The One From The News

In Writing on June 18, 2012 at 3:34 pm

100 word challenge for grown ups

This week’s 100 Word Challenge for Grown Ups  prompt was to write an article based off the title “There’s a real buzz about this place.” But since I misread the prompt and wrote a story first, here’s a story AND an article. Enjoy!

The One From the News (A Story)

Gabe stood waiting, fourteenth in line out of fifteen and youngest by far. The sun flashed; the insects droned; the sweat dripped.

“Step forward,” the guard said. The door opened and a buzzing whirl swelled from within. Gabe complied, thirteenth now, and not much older.

“You the one from the news, little lady?” the man behind him asked. His arms were black with ink, scarred and corded with muscle.

“I’m a man.”

“Sure thing, darlin’.” The man laughed soft and deep. “Better hope you look it once they cut that pretty hair… It’s the last cut you’ll ever get.”

There’s a Real Buzz About This Place (An Article)

BOSTON – Thirty eight students were hospitalized Monday after the group suffered inexplicable bites and stings during a tour of the Common. School officials say no insects were spotted in the area.

“The kids just sort of scattered, screaming,” Elizabeth Berry, a substitute teacher at Boston Latin Academy, said. “But the adults were all fine. Very unnerving.”

Doctors at BMC attribute the event to a kind of shared hallucination, though at least three children had to be treated for severe anaphylaxis.

“The imagination can be a very powerful thing,” one man said at the scene. He refused to give his name. 


Follow the link up above to read the other responses and submit one of your own. Comments and criticism more than welcome! (That goes for the rest of my fiction, too).